The True Meaning of Freedom

John 8: 31-42
Dn 3:14-20, 91-92,95 / Dn 3:52-56

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
(John 8:31-32)

Once in the darkness, we had been
Blind to the Truth, now we can see;
Why remain in the chains of sin
When the Word of God sets us free?

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.” But they answered, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said, “If you were Abraham’s children, then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.” (John 8:31-42)

Reflection

The Jews thought Jesus was talking about political freedom, liberation from the Romans, as Israel then was under the dominion of Rome. But Jesus was speaking of spiritual freedom, the freedom from sin, and alienation from God. Much like the error of the Jews in Jesus’ time, many people today think freedom means being independent, possessing the power of choice to do whatever I wish to do as I please. This is certainly not the kind of freedom that Jesus was talking about, because this freedom only leads us away from the truth. What our Lord is teaching us in today’s Gospel is the freedom from the bondage of sin, from which only the truth in the Gospel can liberate us. Jesus is teaching us that if we abide by His Word, the Holy Spirit will empower and guide us to live our lives according to God’s will.

A sad commentary on the kind of liberation that our materialistic age is selling today is a harmful license that has given rein to the wanton spread of drug addiction, illicit sexual relations, abortion, alcoholism, and all the evils of a permissive society. In the end, it is not freedom at all, but a millstone that the prince of lies has tied around the sinner’s neck that will eventually drown him in the depths of despair.

We cannot pursue the world’s pleasures and remain in God’s Word at the same time. For “no man can serve two masters.” Our Lord Jesus has taught us that His Truth (the Word of God) will set us free from the shackles of false freedom that only give rise to fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy, bitterness, and all the negative emotions in our life. In this season of Lent, let us spend more time meditating on God’s Word in the Bible, the source of true freedom, rather than indulging in worldly activities that only distract us from our true purpose in life.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your Word, which has freed us from the bondage of sin and ignorance, and has become the sword and armor in our lives. Amen.

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